Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Yesterday on the way home from daycare my four year old Buddy said, "We did bugs today. I can spell bugs: B-U-G-S!"
I said, "That's right! That's great! I didn't know you could do that. We will have to find a book with bugs in it for you to read."
He grinned into my rear view mirror. All evening he kept telling me how to spell bugs. We did find a couple of books with bugs in them, including Mercer Mayer's These Are My Pets and one of the little books in the My World series by Nora Gaynos. With a little help Buddy could read most of them. This is such an exciting time for me - watching someone learn to read is a tremendous thrill. I am looking closely at my home early reader book collection and scanning the shelves of my school library for summer books. I am looking for books at the early levels that include children of color in the illustrations. Here are a few I picked out this morning:
Yo Yes! by Chris Raschka. Orchard Books, 1993. When I was teaching first grade this was a favorite of many children, especially boys, who thought they couldn't read. The text is so simple (Often just one word on the page like "Yo!") and it is perfectly natural and compelling dialog. Two children on the street meet and hesitantly begin to form a friendship. The children are illustrated in shades of brown. Their facial expressions and body language is evocative. This book is a poem.
The Pup Speaks Up by Anna Jane Hays, illustrated by Valeria Petrone. A Step into Reading level 1 book by Random House, 2003. Level one books are intended for preschool to kindergarten children considered "ready to read". They include big type, easy words, rhyme and rhythm, and picture clues. This is a cute story that is full of animals. Bo is a little brown skinned boy (Hispanic? Native American?) with a new puppy friend. They live in the southwestern desert. They go for a walk and listen to what everyone they meet says, such as a bee that goes buzz, and train that goes choo choo, and so on. Pup doesn't speak until they meet a cat at the end of the book, which raises the readers curiosity; what will the pup say? This book is new to me and I can't wait to see how Buddy is going to like it.
Loose Tooth by Anastasia Suen, illustrations by Allan Eitzen. Based on the characters created by Ezra Jack Keats. Viking, 2002. A level 2 reader, for grades Kindergarten through second grade. This story and the others in the series take the characters from Keats beloved books and bring them into grade school. It's picture day and Peter has a loose tooth. He meets his friends Archie and Amy at the bus stop and they discuss whether the tooth will come out before the school pictures and how Peter feels about that. In the middle of the story there is a basketball game that is a little street rough, and of course the tooth gets knocked out. Peter smiles for his picture because he is planning to use the tooth fairy money to buy a basketball and that makes him happy. Suen has done a good job keeping the characters in the personalities that Keats gave them. It is amusing to see them growing up just like real children. The story is not quite as brilliant as Keat's own writing, but it is pleasing and engaging. I am going to keep this book in mind for Buddy in a year or two. Click on the book title above to go to the author's page with more of her books (lots of diversity there), coloring pages, lesson plans, videos, etc.
Small Wolf by Nathaniel Benchley, pictures by Joan Sandin. Harper Trophy, text copyright 1972, illustrations copyright 1972, 1994. A level 3 book for grades 2 -4. Small Wolf is a native American living in the Brooklyn/Manhattan area in the 16th century. He stumbles across the Dutch settlers who believe they have "bought" the land from the Canarsee Indians. Small Wolf and his father don't understand how this can be, that people would think they can own the sky or the land. Benchley does a fine job of presenting the injustice of the white settler's land acquisition and the peaceful, nonviolent strategies that Small Wolf and his family employ to deal with their loss of hunting ground, cultivated land and living space. The end of the book shows the Native American families attempting to move away from the Europeans again and again. I would love to have a discussion with young readers about the implications of this story and see how they connect it with what else they are learning in American history. What a great text to read around Thanksgiving!
I'll continue to post about what I find in early readers and I invite you to comment on books that have delighted you in the beginning reader isle. Let me know what you are finding!